Another Trip Down Memory Lane... All In The Family...
I was born in 1951 and I have never lived without electricity, though in my very early childhood, our electricity was produced by a wind charger. The Rural Electrification Administration (REA) lines hadn't yet been brought out south of Johnstown, Nebraska.
I never saw a sad iron in use, but there were a couple of old sad irons in our attic at Rose, Nebraska, where we moved when I was six. I suppose some housewife stored them there when she got electricity and an electric iron.
I do remember life before clothing care was revolutionized by steam irons, polyester blends and clothes dryers. In the mid-1950's (as early as I can remember), "wash and wear" garments made of a cotton-acrylic blend had just recently been introduced. Many garments were still 100% cotton and they required ironing, especially if they were dried on the clothesline as nearly all clothing was.
A few devices had been invented to help with the wrinkle problem. My mother had stretchers that were large adjustable wire rectangles. She slipped a stretcher into each leg of wet pants so they would dry with less wrinkles.
When it was time to iron, the clothes had to be sprinkled. My mother had a metal stopper with holes in it like a salt shaker top. She filled a soda bottle with water, put the stopper on top, and sprinkled water over the clothes that needed ironing. Then she rolled each garment so the dampness would diffuse and packed it into the clothes basket to sit for a little while before ironing.
I guess spray bottles hadn't been invented yet. Sprinkle bottles were used by all the housewives. You could buy the sprinkle tops for soda bottles at any dime store. They had a cork base to fit the soda bottle's opening tightly. If you were a fancier person, you could buy a ceramic sprinkle bottle with a whimsical shape.
I don't remember my mother ever keeping the sprinkled clothing in the refrigerator, but I've heard that housewives did that. The coolness delayed the mildew and sour odors that could develop if clothing wasn't ironed the same day that it was sprinkled.
I think I might have been six or seven years old when Mama taught me to iron the handkerchiefs and pillow cases. Keeping up with the ironing was a huge chore and it helped a bit to have me do those few things. She was a better woman than I am. I am not sure I would have bothered with ironing my husband's everyday handkerchiefs.